Very similar in theme to Chambers’ other short story, ‘In the Court of the Dragon,’ which precedes this one in the collection, The King in Yellow.’
Here, a bohemian artist senses malevolence from the figure of the night watchman of the churchyard outside his window. It seems to him, the man looks almost like a corpse himself. He attempts to dismiss his irrational fears, but they only seem to be compounded with the strange and morbid dreams his favorite model has been having, and disturbing tales from neighbors…
An ill-advised gift hints of doom; and when the artist and his model are oddly compelled to sit down and read ‘The King in Yellow,’ their fate is sealed.
The horror in this book isn’t something you can see or hear creeping up behind you it’s something elsewhere, elusive. It is a slight adjustment to your perspective that grows and grows into an uneasy feeling of something being wrong. The horror is one of being stalked, not necessarily of a corporal being but more of an idea that sits in your mind like a parasite, a nagging thought that doesn’t ever quite go away. A cursed object and forbidden knowledge. The inexplicable fear of the unknown balanced with the overwhelming curiosity is what makes us human, and what also drives the supernatural undertones of this story.